Calgary mayoral hopefuls face off at one of the last debates of the campaign

All but one Calgary mayoral candidate took to the stage on Tuesday night, tackling everything from the helping Midfield Mobile Park residents to racism during the campaign.

It was almost a full lineup, as 9 of 10 candidates took the stage at the Crossroads Community Association

Cuts, heavy-handedness and weakening institutions are not a vision for our two big cities. (CBC)

Most of the candidates running for mayor made their final pitches Tuesday night at an all-candidates meeting in Calgary's northeast.

Nine of the 10 candidates were at the meeting at the Crossroads community hall. It's the last time in this campaign that many will be on one stage.

Lawyer Bill Smith, who has topped two opinion polls during the campaign, said his biggest two priorities will be to "stop raising taxes and be smart about spending."

However, he did talk during the meeting about spending more money in a couple of areas. 

They included boosting the police budget and what he calls making things right for the remaining residents of the Midfield mobile home park.

Only a handful of residents remain in the trailer park as the city is shutting it down because of crumbling underground water and sewer lines.

Smith wouldn't commit to giving the remaining residents more money, but he is interested in finding them new places for their mobile homes.

"If it's with one of the other builders that want to do a mobile home park, we help them. We make sure that the process is sped up for them so that we can get these people relocated somewhere. Those are the sorts of options I think we've got," said Smith.

Fiery exchange

The night consisted of questions from the audience which were posed to each of the candidates.

Perhaps the most fiery exchange came at the end of the evening.

Jason Achtymichuk demanded that Naheed Nenshi apologize for his comments in a recent video to the Pakistani community.

In that video, Nenshi suggested some of his opponents' supporters may be driven by racist or hateful ideology.

Achtymichuk said that Nenshi was "throwing mud and smearing not only his opponents but the hundreds of thousands of Calgarians who are voting for change in this election."

Some in the crowd booed Nenshi as he rose to address the criticism, but he persisted.

"If this stuff is going on, it's unacceptable in public discourse. Period. And for people to say 'how dare that guy raise this?', that is in and of itself empowering this kind of behaviour and we have to say no to it," said Nenshi to loud applause.

'Not in this job to be everyone's friend'

In a scrum afterward with reporters, Nenshi acknowledged that his opponents are trying to make him the big issue in the campaign rather than focus on the economy.

"It's a fair question and certainly I'm not in this job to be everyone's friend," said Nenshi, who is completing his second term as mayor. 

"The idea is to really stand up for Calgarians everyday. Stand up against bullies. Stand up against entrenched interests. And I call that confidence."

Achtymichuk, Nenshi and Smith shared the stage with Andre Chabot, Emile Gabriel, Larry Heather, David Lapp, Curtis Olson and Stan (the Man) Waciak.

Brent Chisholm was the only candidate missing. 


Scott Dippel

Politics Reporter

Scott Dippel has worked for CBC News in a number of roles in several provinces. He's been a legislative reporter, a news reader, an assignment editor and a national reporter. When not at Calgary's city hall, it's still all politics, all the time.